Stay in the caravan!
A lecture given by HH Kadamba Kanana Swami Maharaja – 8 September 2008, Cape Town, South Africa
We re reading from the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, from the 4th chapter, entitled “Transcendental Knowledge”, text 39:
sraddhava labhate jnanam
jnanam labdhva param santim
A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.
Of course, we remember that it is stated adau sraddha, first faith- first sraddha. The word sraddha; to translate it with faith is a little poor. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, sraddha sabdhe- visvasa kahe sudhrhda niscaya, krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya, which means that the firm conviction, that by following the process of devotional service to Krsna, that all auspiciousness or all good will be attained. That is the definition that is given in the Caitanya Caritamrta. Looking a little further, then the word ‘srad’ is referring to the truth; it also has the dart relating to hearing- sravanam. The truth that has been heard- srad. And ‘dha’ means to fix. So to fix the truth in the heart is known as sraddha; is a more epistemological meaning of the word ‘sraddha’.
So like this we can see how generally…it is stated ‘adau sraddha’, but here Srila Prabhupada is saying that “one is called a faithful man who thinks that simply by acting in Krsna consciousness, he can attain the highest perfection. This faith is attained by the discharge of devotional service and by chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.” So in other words, he puts faith after; faith only comes after we’ve chanted, after we purify our heart, then real faith comes. Then sudhrhda niscaya – firm faith comes, because, firm faith is actually described to be nistha. And nistha, when we have gone through many stages of devotional service- ‘adau sraddha’- first the initial faith; then sadhu sanga- the association with devotees; then the process of devotional service- bhajana kriya; then anarta navrrti, and then nistha. In nistha…bhagavat bhakti naisthaki, in a lecture on the Bhagavatam verse, bhagavat bhakti naisthaki, Srila Prabhupada says, nistha is the stage where one is sixty or seventy percent purified, Prabhupada said. In other words, if we look at it, at that stage of nistha one is more attracted to Krsna than to Maya. Although the influence of Maya may be there, one may feel the attraction, but because one is more attracted to Krsna, one will discard it. And thus one is firmly fixed in his faith. But when our heart is so full of sinful seeds that are stored there, then the sinful inclination is very strong and thus our determination in Krsna consciousness is very weak. Although we are thinking, ‘Yes, this is the right thing but still somehow or other we have our moments of doubts and we look for an excuse, even at times. When the sinful inclination is so strong we look for an excuse to lose faith.
For example, one good one is, ‘I really believe in Krsna consciousness, I mean absolutely, I think definitely it is the greatest thing there is but I’m just not sure if I can follow it.’ This is really good, because you have no doubt in Krsna consciousness at all- no doubt- ‘but just in myself, I’m so fallen Prabhu, what can I do?’ But then you have no faith in the process of Krsna consciousness that it can uplift you, then we think that we so fallen that even Krsna consciousness cannot save me. So that is actually not having faith in the process of Krsna consciousness because the holy name is so fallen, it doesn’t matter who we are. Even if we are the most sinful person in the entire universe, still the holy name can purify that in a moment. Even if astrologically we have all the bad planets- rahu, the dark planets- ‘I’ve been in the rahu period- so many years still to come- misfortune will come my way, what can be done! It is too strong; thus I cant be fixed up in my spiritual life. It’s not possible in my rahu period!’ It’s true; karmic calculation, there can be no success in pious activity when rahu is predominant but it’s not pious activity! Prabhupada said Krsna can kick out a million rahus just like that! So that argument doesn’t stand either. Thus astrology doesn’t work- nothing works really. There is no excuse, there is really no valid excuse that Krsna consciousness wouldn’t work for us. It will work for us- it will work for anyone and everyone, irregardless of his condition of life.
So, all right, that excuse didn’t fly. So gradually by hearing we get more knowledge but we cannot realize that knowledge. Realized knowledge comes by engaging in devotional service, by taking the instructions of the scriptures and engaging the senses in the service of Krsna. Because basically the process of vaidhi bhakti, the process of following devotional service according to rules and regulations, is the process of engaging the senses in the service of Krsna. It is based on the principle of sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmalam hrsikena hrsikesa- sevanam bhaktir ucyate, that one should give up all desire for any personal position, any personal reputation, any fame or any upadhi. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam, we have to renounce all designations and simply see ourselves as one who is trying to please the senses of hrsikesa, the Lord and master of the senses- Krsna. So in this way we are dedicating our life to Krsna but this is in practice; this is just due to some intellectual understanding, and behind it- some suffering in the material world. Memories of suffering in the spiritual world are the foundation. On top of it there is some knowledge that ‘if I engage the senses in the service of Krsna, I’ll become purified. Thus I must do it as my duty.’ And it’s fueled by the fire of the previous suffering. But with time the memory of the previous suffering disappears and the memory of the current suffering in Krsna consciousness becomes more prominent, and thus with time we are becoming less convinced. We think that with time we become more convinced, you think that as the days go by that you become stronger in your Krsna consciousness but you’re finding that as time goes by, you’re becoming weaker. This is interesting.
Yes, it means that we cannot continue to be motivated by a negative motivation, that we are serving Krsna because material life didn’t work. We have to actually serve Krsna because we are convinced that Krsna is more wonderful. That is the real reason. So somewhere along the line our motivation has to change from one who comes…because of a certain amount of material distress, and who didn’t have material distress? Who can say he did not come with material distress? We’d like to think of ourselves, that we were seekers for wisdom, but what made us seekers for wisdom! In my life it was sheer distress! If I would have enjoyed from day one, I would have gone as far as this…it’s hard to say. But anyway, I didn’t enjoy it- not at all! I’m not going to give the full description but all I can say is that so much suffering in the material world- intense! So, by the time I came to Krsna consciousness I said , “Enough! I had enough! I don’t want anymore! I want to get out of here- out of this material world!” but that motivation may be very strong at first and on the strength of that we can do amazing things, and then it wears out. Fine, but anyway, if we continue in spite of that- in spite of the fact that the initial impetus disappears- and we go through the process with patience and determination, we become purified. And then, yes, gradually the lower modes of material nature disappears. Tada raja tamo bhava kama…so the influence of tama-guna and raja-guna disappear and we become fixed in the mode of goodness it is said.
Now I offer a little story just to make a little break with all this philosophy and slokas. So, once some people, they were born in a dessert- not exactly a dessert- but they lived in an open oasis. Something like in India; you have jisoniers- jisoniers in the middle of the dessert- huge desserts- and there’s sand and sun and nothing else. And there are such places. So generally people live in dessert, in an oasis, and yes, life in the dessert is a little more simple because they don’t have that much- they don’t have all the vegetables, all the fruits that you have in an ordinary place. It’s kind of limited- limited fruits- lots of dates and so on, and it’s a bit dry in the dessert. So people were living there in an oasis, in the dessert. One day, a stranger came and spoke of a green land; a beautiful green land, very fertile, full of great natural opulence and he brought some mysterious fruits as well from that land to sort of prove that he was definitely not an ordinary person from the dessert. So a lot of people developed some faith in him-partially because of the fruits, which were really good and also because of his descriptions and his impressive personality and so on. So a caravan was organized that was supposed to go through the dessert. That caravan traveled along but once you go into the dessert then hot sun is burning on your head day and night. And no matter how big the water bottle is that you carry, it’s always too small! I have had experience in desserts in Rajasthan and no matter how much water we took it was always coming to a point where we had to start rationing the water! It’s like sooner than you think; we said, “This time we got enough…” and again we come to the point, “It’s running out!” and you can drink every ten minutes- so hot, so dry. So what to say; it’s a long journey and a lot of people naturally started to think, “It’s too much! This is too much! I mean, why are we doing this? Some promises of some place, but it’s too much, we’re going back…” well, since we’re in a Bhagavad Gita class it’s not hard to see the parallel in the story! The oasis is the oasis of sense gratification. When we grew up, it was okay but still a little bit dry. There was some enjoyment but it wasn’t enough to fulfill us, it was limited. Finally we met some preacher in Krsna consciousness who promised us the spiritual world and it sounded so good, and gave us some prasadam to taste- that helped! And we decided to enter the caravan of bhakti yoga!
Now, this caravan is going through the dessert and the thing is, if you want to go from an oasis in the dessert to a green land what you have to do? You have to first go through the dry dessert and that is the difficulty in spiritual life, that we have to go through the dry dessert. That means we have to stop all our sense gratification and we don’t get the higher taste yet, and meanwhile the hot sun of lust is burning on your head- day by day. And it’s not a Sunday feast everyday, if you know what I mean! So even that is kind of austere. So a lot of people just turn back; they say, “This is too much! I cannot keep this up! This is too difficult, I’ll go back…” but if you persevere, if you’re determined- your family members will say, “You’re crazy! What are you doing? No, no, no; this is too much, you’re too fanatic! Forget this!” but we say, if you persevere and say no, then one day- yes you cant believe it- on the horizon palm tress, beautiful white houses, water and everything- “Yes, let’s go! Another oasis! This time it’s really good.” No wonder it’s really good because it’s the oasis of the mode of goodness! It should be good! Beautiful oasis! Now, you’ve come to the place where you begin to enjoy spiritual life! Yes, now spiritual principles become your second nature. The idea of not taking a bath- the idea is inconceivable, which previously you would step into the clothes of the day before (or the whole week!) and no problem…but suddenly it becomes an issue. So the principles of the mode of goodness now become our second nature. This is the point where you begin to enjoy spiritual life. “My spiritual life is a very, very nice spiritual life! Yes, I’m very, very happy in my little spiritual asrama and I’m chanting my rounds and it is all very nice and we have nice association, and it’s all a nice comfy little spiritual life- very nice. Even the cat is vegetarian! My dog pays obeisances! The parrot chants Hare Krsna and everything is really great! It’s what I’ve always wanted! I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”
The guide says this is not it! This is not it! This is not it at all! This is not important; this is not something to relish- no. We must sacrifice- “Sacrifice? This is lies!” No, we must sacrifice our blood- “Sacrifice our blood? That sounds painful!” We must sacrifice! We must do whatever we can to save the condition souls- “Well, you know, they’re very sinful, very fallen I don’t know if I can associate too much with these people because I might fall down. No, it is better to stay here- safe.” Yes, sit there safe in your nice little spiritual life, sit there safe in your sweet little Krsna bubble, and just be there nice and comfy with a soft, little cushion in your back with Hare Krsna embroided on it! Yes, it feels good, isn’t it? Lets take that position of comfort…but know one thing for sure, STILL-NOT-FULFILLED! STILL-SOMETHING-LACKING! In spite of everything- in spite of having all the KC videos that you can imagine and watching a different one every night- the full collection, oh yes, all of them!- in spite of having 3000 CD’s, in spite of having 12000 lectures and 78 443 pictures of Krsna on your screen saver…in spite of all of that, still- still- somehow or other a sense of just emptiness hits you every once in a while. Just when you’re chanting your rounds, in between the holy name…(dramatic)… what is it? What is it?
Yes, if we don’t make that sacrifice, if we don’t make that trouble to save the condition souls, it will not happen- it will not happen. We will be in the second oasis- no more enjoying sense gratification, now we will no longer be enjoying material life- now we will enjoy spiritual life! But we stop to be the enjoyer of spiritual life also; we must simply be the servant and do the needful. There is a whole world- samsara-davanala-lidha-loka– the world is one fire, it is a blazing forest fire and the people are affected by suffering and we must become rain clouds. Rain clouds; we must absorb all this transcendental knowledge and shower it, shower it, over the planet again and again! Well, it reminds me of a movie I saw ages ago, because I don’t watch movies these days. So whenever I remember a movie it’s usually a really old one! This one was called “The Omen” and the omen is sort of about six, six, six…if you know what I mean. So there is a scene in the movie about a priest who was warding off the influence and he’s in his room and he’s nailing all these crosses on the wall- he’s got hundreds of crosses all along the wall- and then he’s saying, “The influence is getting too strong! It’s getting too strong!” and he nails another cross on the wall… “I don’t know how long I can hold it back! The influence of evil is coming in!” well, it maybe true if we stay in our little mode of goodness, our Krsna bubble; we have our nice, little Krsna world, yes, but outside there is a raging forest fire! So even for self-preservation we have to do something; we have to knock on doors. That is what Lord Caitanya told Lord Nityananda, to knock on every door in Bengal. He told Lord Nityananda to go back from Puri to Bengal and to knock on every door of every house and ask the people to chant the name of Krsna. Of course Lord Nityananda went and instead asked them to chant the name of Gauranga- bhajagauranga nama. That He did; He went everywhere- all over- and people chanted, and also the name of Krsna.
Yes, so that is the only way that we can really be fulfilled. If we go out of our oasis then we come to the dessert and gradually of course, as we try, as we leave our oasis of goodness, we begin to see the landscape starts to change! There are more cactuses now than before! Yes! And some even have fruits; if you pull out the thorn there’s fruits- not bad. They’re not yet the nectar fruits from the Greenland, they’re yet the complete realizations but there are some realizations and they’re satisfying. It may not be krsna-prema but a little nistha also helps, a little ruci sometimes- a little taste- so the little bit of nectar, that also helps and keeps you going. It is said in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that bhava is the stage of ecstasy. It is said it is like the sun ray- the first ray in the early morning of prema- begins to come. That is bhava; so it is ecstasy. So now some love comes. And it also says that there is shadow bhava, the shadow of this ecstasy and that is very interesting because it says that if you are in the company of a great vaisnava, that you can, o to speak, ‘borrow, some of his ecstasy. Or if you go to a holy dhama, then the holy dhama is also full of ecstasy and you get some of that. So just being there, you get it.
Last year we were going by boat to Mangochi; Mangochi is a very nice place because many, many wonderful things are there. I’ll tell that in a moment but first we were going into that place in a boat on the Ganga, so it started good- a boat in the Ganga is always good. And we had a good kirtana going and at one point it was really rocking- it was rocking and we had a good sound system so it was blasting over the whole Ganga and our whole boat was just rocking and devotees were just rocking! Then as we came by then all the people on the shores started rocking! Wherever we were, everyone started! And then there was a fisherman on a little boat in the water and he started dancing on his boat and the boat was going up and down like that, and whenever we went it was like a wave that hit. And then from Mangochi you have to go to another branch of the Ganga and there’s a canal you have to sort of go through. So we went through this canal and it was in between the fields really, and then there was a tree and in this tree there was a crow, and when we came the crow became so ecstatic about the kirtana that he also got into it. And he was calling out, “Rama! Rama! Rama!” (dramatic) as we were coming and he really enjoyed the kirtana, there was no doubt about it. He was completely into it. He also got caught up in the ecstasy. So, it was really ecstatic and everyone was tasting it and we were like just riding on the ecstasy of the dhama. The dhama was just generously lending us this ecstasy because Mayapur dhama is like that- so generous, so abundant, it’s over flowing, it’s everywhere! Have you seen the flowers in Mayapur? They pop out of the ground and they’re big! It’s big- serious, of course! Lord Caitanya, He doesn’t do it small- big! Everything is big! And it gets bigger all the time: more Deities, more worship- more and more and more- it doesn’t stop! Mayapur is just bursting at the seams; it’s Lord Caitanya. Everyone says, “the Mayapur temple, it has no temple president!” The devotees says, “Here Lord Caitanya is the president!” I think they are right! Maybe in Cape Town as well…who knows…! That’s another story…that’s not this class!
So the bhava we can borrow, the bhava of the dhama. We can borrow a little bit of the bhava of the great personalities but because we’re only borrowing, ah, it runs out of after a little while, and then we go back to our normal drab state of consciousness- “Haribol…” (dramatic). And look at all the vaisnavas and think, “the lot of you, the problem is you are not vaisnavas at all! That is the difficulty.” We come down to our ordinary mundane consciousness and we see faults everywhere. But when we are in this stage of ecstasy then we are adaursa darsi. Then you cannot see fault; it is said a vaisnava is adaursa darsi- he doesn’t see fault. That’s not a philosophical thing; ‘A vaisnava doesn’t see faults. Okay. I’m trying…but I think I see something.’ It’s not so easy; not no a vaisnava doesn’t see fault. No, but when we are in ecstasy we don’t see any fault, we don’t even think of faults. We just think everybody is so nice, everybody is just wonderful and everybody is just chanting- how nice! When we are in ecstasy- somebody does a little service and we really feel, ‘Ah, this is wonderful! How nice! This service is so nice! Soon too, you will be dancing in ecstasy- just wait!’ like this. So in this way, this ecstasy is truly full of love because one naturally loves to see the vaisnavas.
Mukunda Maharaja tells the story how when he was a newly initiated devotee he was Mukunda. And at one point…well, Prabhupada use to always play bongos in the kirtana because that’s all he had but then somehow or other at one point Sri Mrdanga- Sri Mrdanga– arrived in America! The first mrdanga in America! So anyway, Prabhupada immediately ripped his piece of his cloth and he put it around the mrdanga to protect it and everything, and the Prabhupada was very happy and he started to play it! and everyone could see that he was very, very expert! Because, Prabhupada was a very good mrdanga player; he had been educated as a child. His father, from young age, had him take mrdanga lessons. So he was quite expert. And even in India, before coming to the West, they always had him play mrdanga. So it was an old friend, and Prabhupada was playing away. So Mukunda was a musician, so Mukunda was like (shocked!) looking at the drum…So Prabhupada could see that he was interested. So Prabhupada said, “Would you like to learn?” Mukunda, “Yes!!!” so Prabhupada taught him some basic mantras and Mukunda immediately wanted to play very fast…Prabhupada said, “Slow down, slow down” but then gradually he allowed him to speed up. And then at one point Mukunda started to sort of get it, started to really get the proper beat and then he saw Prabhupada smiling and like that, and Mukunda said, “That was amazing! That was amazing! I had many music teachers but I never had one who enjoyed my playing!” he said, “And I realized that this was so perfect, that this was so perfect and that Prabhupada was teaching something perfect and therefore that he was appreciating then I was also picking it up.” So Mukunda understood the real reason why Mukunda was enjoying. So in this way Prabhupada was so happy to see that they were taking a little bit- a little bit- and immediately…Prabhupada did not just enjoy that but that touched his heart also! That brought love right out of his heart; Prabhupada then immediately felt so much of affection for his devotees who then felt that they would do anything for Prabhupada- anything! And thus everybody was tolerating everyone and everyone was like in the mood of loving each other and everyone was ready to do any service; it didn’t matter. Later, people became specialized- ‘I’m a book distributor Prabhu! Sorry…’ book distributors don’t do anything but that. but in the very beginning- no, everything- everything! And everyone was enthusiastic to just do anything. ‘Can I serve?’ ‘Yes!’ So that was Prabhupada; that was Prabhupada’s bhava. Prabhupada lent that bhava to the devotees; his loving mood- he lent that and that reflected in everyone. So this is the way that we will carry on.
So my point is, yes, when we come to the mode of goodness and we gradually become free from lower contamination then we can come to nistha, we can come to nistha in spiritual life. And that is something…but it’s not enough! It’s an in between stage, even in nistha when we are more purified than contaminated. It’s an in between stage. Prabhupada describes in the introduction of the Nectar of Devotion, that everything is resting on taste and thus the connection between taste and faith is undeniable. It’s very hard to maintain faith if there’s no taste. How long are we going to last? ‘I’m chanting Hare Krsna for 999 years and it’s been like one big austerity- every moment of it! I think I’m going to bloop!’ something like that, ‘I think I’m going to leave!’
There’s a story about a yogi who had withdrawn from the world and moved into a cave and for years was trying to just remember Krsna. Lets us say he was a yogi who was dedicated to Krsna. So this yogi for years was just trying to just meditate on Krsna in his cave. Anyway, but one day he wasn’t fulfilled and he was tolerating this lack of fulfillment for years. So one day, he just thought, ‘Who am I really?’ And then he left his cave and said, ‘I cannot stay here anymore.’ He came down the mountain and when he was sort of getting half way down the mountain, he saw a man who was putting a thread- a liken thread- over a bar of copper up and down. He said to this man, ‘What are you doing?’ the man said, ‘I’m cutting this copper.’ He said, ‘with this silk thread? That’s going to take a long time!’ he said, ‘that may be but eventually I’ll cut.’ The yogi thought to himself, ‘, this man, this ordinary man, this mundane man, this low class materialist has more determination than I have! I’ll go back to my cave and I will once again and dedicate myself to spiritual life!’
Ten years later, the yogi had another crisis. “and this time it’s too much! I’m going down the mountain and I’m going to stay down the mountain!’ He came and he saw a hole and it had a stone in front of it and he saw a rat. And this rat was trying to chew things off the stone so that he could get in his hole. He said, ‘even this animal, even this low creature is higher than me. I must continue.’ Ten more years, he did it for the rat and that was it! “ten years for a man with the thread, ten years for a rat…enough is enough! Thirty years! I’m old, I’ve given my life and it just didn’t work! I’m quitting- that’s it!” He came down the mountain and this time he went further down than he ever went! And he came to a village and just at the edge of the village there was a dog and this dog was in a bad shape; it was lying there, tongue hanging out of his mouth on the ground, flies all over…this dog looked like really bad. So he felt some compassion and he went and he got a little water and brought that dog some water. And just that, that gave him some sort of feeling that he had never had. All this time he had actually been thinking of himself. All these years he had been thinking of himself and still not satisfied in spiritual life, still not fulfilled in spiritual life. Even if he came to some higher levels but still no ecstasy. But when he gave something to that dog he got some taste because he acted out of compassion and that was a break through. From that day on, he began to give out mercy and it was there where his spiritual life actually changed when he truly…not just ‘Well, Prabhus, we have to go on sankirtana’ it’s our duty. We’re supposed to do it because Srila Prabhupada wanted it so we have to do it.’ ‘O now I must torture myself and do book distribution because Srila Prabhupada wanted it! Oh my God! Oh do I hate it! oh no! I have to go on the street and speak to strangers! Oh I dread every step of it but I must do it because Srila Prabhupada wanted it! And he made it really clear and you cant get around it! My health…even that excuse at the moment…I’m not such in bad health! I cannot fool myself; I cannot call myself surrendered if I don’t do it. So therefore once a month I go out for an hour. The sankirtana scores for yesterday: bhakta Bonzo did 2 books! Jaya! All glories! Thanks! We are flooding the world! Yes, the sankirtana is taking over! I did two books! Yes! Every town and village! Yes, my realization is on book distribution! A real seminar on book distribution!’
So like this, no we must really, really develop this spirit of compassion, this spirit of dedicating our life completely to it. That’s where the ruci begins to come, that’s where the taste kicks in, that’s when taste takes over. Taste is there from day one; the moment you come to the temple there is taste. You want a simply wonderful? ‘Uh, ya I’ll taste one…good!’ Pakora? ‘Ya!’ another one? ‘Yes!’ another, another, another…yes, yes, yes…Taste is there from day one; kirtana- everything- taste is there. But we speak of when taste becomes the guiding principle in our life; when we live on taste, when just that is it, when every moment in Krsna consciousness becomes relishable- that’s the stage of ruci. That goes hand in hand with compassion otherwise no ruci, it doesn’t come. Ruci is when we’re relishing every step of the service. Anusakti- we begin to develop such attachment to Krsna and we begin to more and more develop a particular desire to serve Krsna in a particular mood, in a particular way. And then when we become fixed in that mood then we become fixed in a sthaibhava; sthaibhava means a particular type of desire to serve Krsna in a particular way- the sthaibhava of a cowherd boy, or the sthaibhava of parental or whatever. Those are like the high levels of devotional service where you become fixed in a mood of bhava. It’s said when bhava becomes really fixed, then no more fall down so it is stated.
So in this way, it is said that (let me just see if I can remember this verse now)…so it is said that according to one’s level of being either a kanistha adhikari- a neophyte devotee with kamala sraddha, weak faith- or being a madhyama adhikari- firm faith (nistha)- or being uttama- of actually being absorbed beyond the material nature- absorbed in transcendence; so no longer focused on the material reality but focused on the spiritual reality, focused therefore on the relationship with Krsna. Uttama means focused on the relationship with Krsna. So living in that relationship with Krsna. One is classified as one of those, according to the faith that one has developed. So that is how it is stated, that verse, according to the faith that one has developed. So we were speaking that the faith is growing, the faith is developing and mature faith means the faith of the uttama, who completely knows that all happiness is there in my relationship with the Lord. He constantly lives in that relationship with the Lord and every moment he is investing in that. Thus he is always in an exchange with Krsna in everything that he does- wherever he is- it doesn’t matter. If he is alone on top of a mountain, he will chant, if he’s in the middle of Tokyo he will maybe preach or whatever. I said Tokyo because I have a movie clip which shows a Zen monk, and this Zen monk is in the middle of Tokyo and he has one of those hats that Zen monks have- sort of a basket hat that covers his total face up to the chin- and then in some sort of dress and then like white socks and sort of ballet shoes with strings that are criss-crossed around is calves and all the way up. So he’s really decked out! And then he’s got a bell in his hand and he’s in the middle of the shopping street and it’s just packed with people moving up and down and traffic and neon lights and it’s a big city- Tokyo. And he’s in the middle of the city and he’s walking very slow in meditation and he’s moving a foot and he’s putting it down and the foot is something like very slowly coming down. And then he rings the bell once every twenty seconds! Ting ting ting…20 seconds later…ting ting ting…and he just walks like that through the street…. ting ting ting…and (motor bike sound) and people walking by and he’s completely in that, under his ‘lamp shade’ and walking there in the street! It’s quite something. And if you look at that; I mean what these monks are doing, we could never do, we could never do. We are just…we don’t have such determination.
We don’t function on determination; we function on taste. Our process doesn’t rest on determination; in Zen it’s all in determination, they have to sit and the Zen master is walking behind and if they sleep- bang! – with a stick on the back! “Sit in meditation!” If for a moment…baf!!! That is Zen…we don’t have that program! That is Zen from Japan. But Lord Caitanya’s movement is completely different- completely different; it’s all based on taste but the key to it all is compassion. That’s really the key. Then that’s where we’ll finally get through the taste barrier. As a plane goes through a sound barrier (dramatic), Krsna consciousness we’ll go through the taste barrier, which is the most difficult barrier to go through. And every devotee struggles with that- that taste barrier. ‘No it didn’t work! Still I cant get through that taste barrier after all these years I cant make it through.’ But as soon as we go for a really compassionate spirit to give it out and to think about others to become absorbed and to see that we don’t have time to lose, that’s when it starts to happen. The whole world is on fire; there’s no time to lose! Then we stop playing around, then we get serious because it is serious. And we can do something about it- there’s no time to lose! I guess some feedback now…
Question: In the description with Srimati Radharani you mentioned that Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami says that the first shower is the compassion. I thought you might comment on that…(inaudible)
Maharaja: So, thus Lord Caitanya, when He was meditating on this amazing, amazing state of consciousness of Srimati Radharani and as He was getting more and more into this mood, He too developed this mood of compassion. It’s said that in His meditation on Srimati Radharani, Lord Caitanya took that golden color of Srimati Radharani. There also is a reference that Lord Caitanya, when Radharani heard that Krsna wanted to experience Her consciousness, then She said, “You will crash to the ground in ecstasy so many times and You will hurt Your body. So I will cover Your body with Mine so that You will not become injured.” That’s the only story how He got a golden body…but anyway, so Lord Caitanya took that same spirit of compassion and that is why in that particular incarnation of Krsna, He is the most magnanimous, because He took that compassionate nature combined with His all-pervading nature you see. And in this way He is a unique personality because He is Radha and Krsna combined. If we see how Radha kunda came about then we know that Krsna first made Syama kunda after Aristasura had been killed. Srimati Radharani complained and said that, “You are the killer of a bull! You are contaminated! You must take bath in all the holy rivers!” Krsna said, “No problem, I’ll arrange it.” Made a hole on the ground with His heel, called for all the holy waters and they all appeared, offered obeisances, entered into the kunda, Krsna jumped in the water- job done! And said, “So, and now that I’ve fulfilled all Your demands, now I must say that actually Aristasura was not a bull at all- he was a demon disguised as a bull and You are protecting a demon and thus You have become contaminated and now You will have to bath in all the holy waters otherwise I cannot associate with You anymore! Go ahead and have a dip in My kunda!” She said, “Oh no no; I could not do that. I think You are completely right; I am contaminated so I will make a kunda- I make My own kunda and I will bring My own water!” Okay, She broke the bangles and She told all Her gopi friends to break bangles and they started digging in the ground. So Krsna is standing there and saying, “This is taking a long time!” anyway, they made a hole and then they formed a human chain (we know human chains in Bengal!) and they were going to bring water from all holy places by buckets! So Krsna was thinking, “This is going to take forever! For how long again will I associate with Srimati Radharani?” so Krsna interfered; He inspired all the Deities of the waters to come before Srimati Radharani and to pray, “Please, allow us to enter into Your kunda,” which She then could not refuse. Then She took bath there.
So Radharani, She had that mood of compassion. But from the Radha kunda story we can see that when Radharani does it, She must do it with just surrender in service. She is not like Krsna- omnipotent- Krsna can do anything; He’s the Supreme Lord, so easily. And She has to do a lot of work and service in comparison to Krsna. Thus the compassion of Srimati Radharani combined with the omnipotence of Krsna is what we see in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and thus we see now the magnanimity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu- this mahavadanya avatara- we see this now! It’s just absolutely amazing! Nothing, no such compassion has ever been seen before! And thus this is just amazing! We call it Kali yuga but actually to tell you the truth…it’s Caitanya Yuga!!! It’s touched by Him! The whole yuga has been touched by Him and everything is just changed! He smiles upon us and suddenly we all feel like, ‘Uh yes, interested in spiritual life…’ and we thought that it was us, ‘ever since I was small, I was praying…’ but it’s because of Lord Caitanya’s smile! And we walk around like great bhakti yogis; ‘what will Maya do to me! Ha! Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna..’ and Lord Caitanya is around us and is knocking Maya out of the way- left and right- and protecting us every step, and we are walking, ‘Hare Krsna…great yogis!’ the mercy of Lord Caitanya is so great.
And there is a great caravan that went through the desert from the oasis of sense gratification on the way to the green land and in front of that caravan, the Panca-tattva is dancing! And yes, amazing enough, Advaita Acarya- one of the main dancers- Advaita Acarya is fifty years older than Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! So at that time you can imagine! He must have been in His eighties or whatever, but that didn’t stop Him at all! Advaita Acarya- main dancer. Srivasa was senior as well! Srivasa also a main dancer- all the old guys were the main dancers! And they were just going on because they were dancing on their ecstasy! They were so deep in their ecstasy that they were just being pulled up by their ecstasy! In this way the kirtana party is going along the caravan, and They are dancing in front. And then behind come the great acarayas, who are all dancing! The six Gosvamis are dancing! Baladeva Vidyabhusana is dancing! Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura is dancing! Narottama das Thakura is dancing! Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is dancing! Srila Prabhupada is dancing! And then behind…well then it’s us! And we’re sort of shuffling along in the back of the caravan and we got lots of backpacks, because it’s a long walk! Boy, how are we going to survive this? Oh, I don’t know if we can keep on walking. It’s too much; such a long walk! And in the front they’re dancing! They’re flying! But we are in the same caravan, same destination although we are so much less qualified. But the destination is exactly the same, that’s the amazing thing. If somehow or other we stay in the caravan, no problem- back to Godhead we’ll go! We’ll go there to the green land! And then love of God, if we don’t get it now then we’ll get it just before we enter the spiritual world. Somehow or other, Lord Caitanya will arrange that also- no problem. Prabhupada said, if you follow 16 rounds and 4 regulative principles you can go back to Godhead this lifetime! He said it on a few occasions. The proof that I’m presenting for that is that Prabhupada was giving a lecture on Hiranyakasipu and how he was killed, and he said that when Hiranyakasipu performed his austerities then Nrsimhadeva, the Lord, appeared in a special way because Lord Brahma had granted Hiranyakasipu his boon. And the boon was like, not to be killed by a man, not to be killed by an animal, not to be killed inside, not to be killed outside, not to be killed in the day, not to be killed in the night, not to be killed on earth, not to be killed in the air and so on. Not to be killed by any weapon, not by a demigod…so he had it all arranged! All the possible causes of death, Hiranyakasipu had eliminated and he got that benediction from Lord Brahma. So because Brahma had given his word, Krsna upheld that and He took the form- half man, half lion; he killed him at twilight- it was not the day it was not the night; he killed him on the door step- it wasn’t inside the house, it wasn’t outside the house; he killed him on His lap- it wasn’t on the ground, it wasn’t in the air; and He killed him with his nails- it wasn’t with any weapon! And like this He fulfilled all the conditions because Brahma said it. So Prabhupada is saying, yes, when a great personality says then the Lord will uphold. He said, therefore if I will say if you chant 16 rounds and follow four regulative principles then you will go back to Godhead, then you will go. So that’s my evidence that really, 16 rounds and 4 regulative principles is enough to be a part of the caravan! But you cannot walk out of the caravan; that’s another thing. And that is the difficulty- how do we stay in the caravan all the way in the back? It’s a loooooong, long walk! And boy, the path is narrow and slippery at the same time! And many a man has gone astray in a weak moment in the darkness of night, and thought that he was following his predecessor but then just took a little turn and…what to do! We hope for the best. It’s a razors edge! Sometimes there are dangerous bridges and deep gaps and what not! And sometimes we come to cemeteries and the old graves open up! All the skeletons from our closet are dancing around in our mind and we are just thinking about the old material desires!
Like that, so many positive experiences we have in our spiritual life! How to remain fixed on the path? Durgame pathi me ‘andhasya skhalat-pada-gater muhuh sva-krpa-yasti-danena santa santv avalambanam, Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami says, “My path is very difficult; my feet are slipping again and again but by holding on closely to the association of the vaisnavas, in that way I can do it.” So how to do it with the association of the vaisnavas? Well there is a very nice story in the Caitanya Caritamrta, and that is when Sanatana Goswami escaped from jail and all that and finally he met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Mahaprabhu instructed him. And after some time they separated; Mahaprabhu went to Puri and later Sanatana Goswami joins Mahaprabhu in Puri. It was there that he for the first time met all the devotees; before that he had only heard from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu but he had not yet met all the devotees. So he was introduced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself to all the devotees and he offered his obeisances to all the different devotees and all the devotees were offering him respect, friendship and mercy. And that’s very nice- respect, friendship and mercy. And that is sadhu sanga. If we have a community, which is based on respect, if we are very careful…respect is not just a matter of lip service; respect means that we are dealing with whatever is important to someone, we also give it importance. That is respect. And then everything is important to us and we treat people with care and that we are considerate. Respect means that we are not going to publicly advertise their faults; respect means that even if such things need to be discussed we do it privately and keep that respect. We will not publicly diminish their respect- no, we give respect. And respect also means that we will appreciate all the good things they’re doing; we give appreciation. Then we can friendship because then we can start to trust.
A nice French philosopher is called Pascal and he wrote the famous treatise called (French word)- “the thoughts” and there Pascal writes, he said, “If friends would know what friends say behind their back, there wouldn’t be friends in the world.” So when I read that then I was thinking, if our movement doesn’t prove that wrong then we have failed! Then we have failed; then we have really failed! Because that is what our movement is for, for true friendship. So see what it means- sadhu sanga! So if we invest in this things- respect, friendship and mercy…yes mercy; every Vaisnava has mercy sometimes- you do! You get some mercy from somewhere- pass it on, pass it on to the other vaisnavas, share it with the other vaisnavas; and in this way it happens. Even in the spiritual world it’s going on like that. It is said that Madhumangal and Krsna somehow or other met some brahmanas and they got lots of blessings and they got a lot of prasadam and then Madhumangal hid it in his chadar! But Balarama saw it! And Balarama said that, “You should share it; why don’t you share it with the vaisnavas?” but he didn’t do it, so then Balarama arranged that one devotee sneaked up from behind, snatched the prasadam and one was opening the knot of his dhoti and another was taking everything away. So Madhumangal couldn’t do anything because his dhoti was falling off and then the others quickly divided the prasadam! So even in the spiritual world, this is the point of the culture- to share the mercy. And if we do that then we get such nice…we should have such nice relationships as vaisnavas, that everyone can see that, “This is amazing, this people! Just in that we want to be here!” people will join automatically; they come for one program and they’re never want to leave.
I have one story – a Christian story- which illustrates a similar point. There’s a story that there was a monastery and as many Catholic monasteries nowadays, they are sort of…all the old people are there and every year one or two dies and gradually they’re getting less and less and less…and they have all these big buildings but they’re completely empty, just old people but they’re dying out and they know that just after then there will be no one. So one day there was a Jewish rabbai who visited the monastery and one of the elder monks was saying that, “yes it doesn’t look bright because in the future it looks that there won’t be anyone left. Would you offer a solution of what we could do to attract new people?” the rabbai said, “We have the same problem in our tradition! Our synagogues are emptying out; it’s getting more and more empty everyday. So I don’t know about that. But one thing I do know is that you are a group of very special people because I know that amongst you, that actually one of you is the messiah! The one of whom we are waiting to return, I know actually that one of you is the messiah!” that was the news of the day! You can imagine! It was like wow! That was something else! All the monks were talking about it, “One of us is the messiah!” and they went back to the quarters and were asking, “Who is it?” and all of them said, “Well, one thing is for sure- it’s not me! It’s not me so it’s got to be one of the other ones.” So from that day they started thinking, “well, I mistreated everyone and then when he reveals himself, he might hold a grudge against me, so I better be very careful!” so from that day on everybody started treating everybody with very special care and attention and suddenly the whole mood in the monastery changed. Then one day there was a bus with students that came and visited from schools just to see the monastery, and the young students were so impressed by the loving relationships between the old monks that some of them became monks and joined on their own!
Therefore this sadhu sanga is the one thing that can keep us on the track, in the back of the caravan. But then we have to stop being Mayavadi’s! Oh my God! Yes, we have to start getting personal; we have to just get personal with everyone. We can no longer live with our own privacy and lock ourselves up and think, ‘I don’t want anything to do anything with anybody! People- I don’t want to see people! People, no! No relationships- no talking!’ We have to invest in a relationship with everyone and all these principles of friendship, respect and mercy, these three in sadhu sanga, will save us, because that’s how it will work. Ecstasy like Advaita Acarya, who’s fifty years older than Lord Caitanya, for one day! Like yesterday we were jumping around and at the end of the kirtana my legs went (cracking noise) ah! And today it’s limping but it’s getting better. But still, I don’t know how Advaita Acarya did it! in his eighties- dancing like that- inconceivable! So we cannot imitate these personalities but somehow or other we get to stay in the caravan- that’s for sure. And sadhu sanga; if we do it together, in good relationships, we’ll make it, and that’s something that begins with Pascal’s principle that if friends would know what friends would say behind their back, there wouldn’t be any friends in the world. So let us try and go straightforward so that we get real trust.
I was reading something in a management book about love and trust and it was saying if there’s a group of people and there’s no trust amongst these people, then what they’ll will do is they will just spend their time with notebooks and policing each other. The notebooks means that they need to write down many rules and many policies etc to govern the activities and the rest, everyone is just looking at each other to see if somebody is breaking the law. And when I read that, it reminded me sometimes I’ve seen that, I’ve seen those dynamics; I’ve seen devotees watching each other to see if somebody’s not stepping over the line- policing each other- I’ve seen that. But we need love and trust. So if there’s trust, real trust, then real relationships. And if they don’t exist, well, dadati prati grhnanti bauntye…Once we were taking prasadam with Giriraja Maharaja and he said, “Well, it’s proven scientifically that when cows eat together that they give more milk!” in other words, okay, let’s learn to associate- it’s not easy; you have to put your claws back into your hands, take out those fangs and do not attack! Especially when someone turns his back to you, do not take a knife and put it in there- no! Don’t! No! Don’t attack! Leave those backs alone; put a friendly hand on the back and just sort of come next to the person and actually start an hones conversation, based on these principles: friendship and mercy.
Maharaja: Narada Muni himself had a problem when Daksa cursed him. He was himself an outcaste; Daksa cast him out when he was trying to preach to his sons and didn’t understand. So I guess some have to be very tolerant and have to be ready to go alone, to go ahead alone and then try from their experience along the path if they go alone, to turn back and bring others along as much as they can. As much as they don’t come along…what can we do? We cannot be surprised. Sometimes we think about our previous life and we think where have been? Were we with devotees in our past life? It could have been; it could have well have been! Who were we? Sometimes we think. Where were we? Well, okay if we were devotees in our last life then most likely in India somewhere because in the West, it after all came with Prabhupada. So then where were we? Who were we? Sometimes some go to India and get readings done from certain Brghu readers and what not! And usually you were some prince or princess! Very co-incidentally so! So I don’t know what to think about that. but in our last life, may be we were devotees- lets say we were- then what does it mean? Then if we were royalty and devotees, then what does it mean? It means we failed! It means we didn’t make it, it means we are the end of chapter 6 in Bhagavad Gita! That’s us, you know! That’s what it is, those verses: if you don’t make it in Krsna consciousness then you come back to such family and so on and you have to do it again! All right, we had to do it again and how many times did it already happen? How many times did we already blow it? And how many lifetimes have we already been connected and yet not enough to tip the balance so to speak, to bring us to the point to take it seriously? Bahunam janmanam ante. After so many lives, finally, vasudeva sarvam iti. And some people are working on their next life and everyday there are activities for the building stones for the next lives and they doing a good job! And they’re building a jail with some good bars for them! And you know, and then a gate and they put it all in, and then they put a good lock in it! And then they will take another birth and go in there and at the time of birth- throw the key out of the window and be locked up again! Good luck!
Prabhupada speaks about birds; a bird that has lived in a cage for a long time, you take it to a field, you open the gate, you let him out, you let him fly out and then he flies back into the cage! He flies back into the cage! Prabhupada said, “What can I do? He flies back into the cage! We let him out and he flies back! What can you do?” So we cannot be surprised when many birds fly back in the cage; it’s inevitable. So it can be a lonely path and we may even be condemned as Narada was condemned; Narada was condemned- “too fanatic!” Okay, too fanatic about going back to Godhead, too fanatic about getting Krsna prema- can you be? I think it should be our own desire; that’s what I desire, that one day it would be my own desire. But if we don’t get that prema, which will melt our heart now, if at least we’re faithful to Srila Prabhupada and his teachings, then at the end of our life…see, I’m seeing it like that; that it’s something like a school, and you’ve done your exam and it’s being judged by the authorities and they look at your case and they go, ‘Shoo! This one is a real problem case! Oh no…look at this! It’s really not…’ some are saying, ‘Maybe it will be really better if he does it another time- just another life.’ And then there’s someone who suddenly says, ‘But wait a minute, this is one of Prabhupada’s!’
‘All right; Prabhupada’s? Let him go.’ That’s on our side, that’s on our side. And then Lord Caitanya says, “Oh, one of Prabhupada’s devotees? Then I have to give him love of Godhead! What can I do; how can I not give it to him? So if they’re absolutely not qualified but they’re approaching the spiritual world.” He’ll give us something- just slip it to us at the gates of Vaikuntha!
Comment: Srila Prabhupada quotes a nice example that if you study medicine in India, the one who qualifies becomes a doctor and one who fails becomes a licensee of medicine. And Prabhupada makes the point that both benefit but on a certain level.
Maharaja: Yes, but Lord Caitanya’s mercy is just amazing! Thank God! Because otherwise we will be licensees forever! Okay, thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki, Jaya!